Article written by Gary Direnfeld
When it comes to a child coming out as LGBTQ+, there remains many stereotypes and divergent views. This can make the process of coming out even harder. Therefore, how can you as a parent make your child feel comfortable sharing their authentic self with you?
To facilitate a child coming out, it is often advised to let them come to you. Let them begin the conversation and remember, this is about them, not you or your views.
Having an open and accepting view better enables a child to express themselves and explore the impact of this information upon you. To that end, some kids/teens will test the waters first. By raising the topic of LGBTQ+ issues, they can gain perspective on where your response may go and therefore how you may respond to their coming out.
One Step at a Time:
Your child may choose to start with one parent. Therefore, there may be some concern about disclosing their authentic self to the other parent. In these situations, respecting the views and opinions of the child empowers them to manage what can be just one of many challenges that concerns them.
While it is natural to want to help, don’t take any action on your child’s behalf. Instead, get a sense from your child as to what they think they need. Ask them how they would like you to be helpful in sharing their information with either the other parent, extended kin or friends.
Concerns or issues may arise with your co-parent. In this case, it can be helpful to provide them space to process the information while continuing to be supportive of your child. The challenge is to not run down or badmouth the other parent or create conditions for the hardening of different views.
Parental acceptance is important to the emotional wellbeing of the child who expresses their authentic self. Lowering the risk of parental conflict on these matters is also critical. Conflict itself can create the conditions for the emotional harm of the child.
In the end, your child is still who you have always loved. They haven’t actually changed. They are just being who they know themselves to be. Your support can make a world of difference. LGBTQ+ children who feel supported and understood by their parents tend to experience better emotional and mental health throughout life.
Things may feel like they are changing, but one thing never will: the love you have for your child. The best thing you can do is make sure they know that.